BALTIMORE—Oriole Park was as beautiful as ever. The empty stands are still jarring, and the overly loud crowd noise for routine outfield fly balls needs toning down.
On the field, the New York Yankees, the surprise opponents for Wednesday night’s home opener, resumed their tormenting of the Orioles with a 9-3 win in the home opener for the 2020 season.
The Orioles are now 2-2.
Instead of Gleyber Torres, who hit an astonishing 13 home runs and drove in 20 runs in 18 games against the Orioles in 2019, there was just the general annoyance of another loss to New York. Torres was hitless in four at-bats and walked.
Last year, the Orioles won two of their first three games against the Yankees and then lost 16 straight. They’ve stretched that losing streak to 17, which ties the Orioles’ record for most consecutive losses to a team.
They also lost 17 in a row to Cleveland in 1954. It was the 16th straight loss at home to New York. The Orioles’ last home win against the Yankees came on July 10, 2018.
“They’re the New York Yankees,” starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski said. “You can’t mistakes. You’ve got to execute well. You’ve got to go out there and compete and be on top of your game. I made three mistakes tonight, and they got hit for homers, and that’s where I got hurt.
“I wish I could have had those three pitches back because throughout the game, I thought I executed my other pitches really well.”
Wojciechowski worked through five innings, allowing four earned runs and striking out seven.
Gerrit Cole, who signed a nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees last winter, was impressive.
He allowed a first-inning double to José Iglesias, which scored Austin Hays, and retired 14 straight and 18 of 19 until giving up three straight hits with two outs in the seventh.
Cole was charged with three runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Wojciechowski, making his first start of the season, allowed three home runs in the first three innings — a leadoff homer to DJ LaMahieu in the first, one to Aaron Judge starting the third, and a two-run shot by Aaron Hicks.
“I just thought Asher missed location with the pitchers there,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “They were fastballs up, just not up enough.”
Wojciechowski wasn’t helped by two catcher’s interference calls against Pedro Severino in the first. Judge, who later scored, and Giancarlo Stanton reached. According to ESPN, it was the first time since at least 1974 that two catcher’s interference calls were recorded in an inning.
“That was a first for me,” Hyde said. “I’d never seen that. I thought that Judge and Giancarlo get kind of long in the bat and they’re big guys and you’ve just got to have a little bit more awareness and give yourself some room.
“I thought (Severino) was just a little bit anxious early. He made the adjustment a little too late, but he made the adjustment and got a little deeper. But, yeah, that’s one thing I’ve never seen and (Severino) hasn’t had that issue. That was very unusual.”
In the seventh, Renato Nuñez, who started at first base in place of Chris Davis, whom Hyde said was unavailable, doubled with two outs. Dwight Smith Jr. homered, and Severino doubled to chase Cole.
Smith, who tested positive for Covid-19, and wasn’t cleared for workouts until July 17, didn’t play in any of the three exhibition games.
“I feel like I’m pretty close to where I should be physically,” Smith said. “I’m still working hard every day just to get my body back into baseball shape. I feel pretty close right now.”
Orioles relievers inconsistent: In his first appearance of the season, Evan Phillips allowed two runs in the sixth inning. He hurt himself with two walks before yielding two hits.
Shawn Armstrong, made his season debut and retired all six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth.
Cody Carroll, who didn’t retire a batter and allowed four runs in his first game on Friday while walking three, finally retired a batter, striking out Brett Gardner.
However, that was the only hitter not to reach. Carroll allowed two hits, walked one and hit a batter. Two runs scored.
Oriole pitchers struck out 12. Gardner struck out four times, Sanchez three.
Iglesias leaves after six: Hyde pulled Iglesias after six innings, immediately after he grounded to short, ending the sixth. He was replaced by Pat Valaika.
“He’s just battling some soreness in his quad from the Red Sox series,” Hyde said. “I saw him not get out of the box really good in the first inning on that double. I was monitoring him.”
The Orioles were trailing, 7-1, and Hyde made the move.
Iglesias was 1-for-3, and is hitting .500 this season, (8-for-16).
Means on Thursday?: Hyde didn’t fully commit to using John Means to start on Thursday, saying it would probably happen. The Orioles need to make a roster move. J.A. Happ starts for New York.